Review: STAGES (Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects)

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Mesmerizing and intricate dance lights up Toronto’s Winchester Street Theatre in Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects’ Stages

Two contemporary dance routines – Time Now (Choreographed by Jennifer Dallas) and Thirst (Choreographed by Tedd Robinson) – were featured in the Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects production, Stages. Showing at the Winchester Theatre, these two pieces are made up of unique choreography that use an abundance of intricate distorted movements and interesting props. Though both works intriguing, I was drawn more to Robinson’s duet piece Thirst primarily for its use of storytelling, simplicity and expressive emotions by dancers Michael Caldwell and Jennifer Dallas.

The production began with Dallas’s new work showcasing three talented female dancers with great on stage chemistry. The relationship between all three dancers was apparent as they danced effortlessly transitioning from one movement to another. The introduction of spoken word presented in different languages was a standout as was the clever use of lights, mirrors and material. All was well integrated into the overall piece however, I did find that there may have been too much thrown in all at once.

Following the intermission, Robinson’s piece Thirst began with Caldwell and Dallas slowly entering a circle that was surrounded by large wood branches and a wooden shrub. What caught my attention right away was the vulnerability that Caldwell and Dallas portrayed. Both topless, the dancers mostly moved with their upper bodies as the bottom half of them were somewhat restricted by white robes. Their eyes were part of the movement as they danced as if they were looking for something. My guest and I were both entranced by Caldwell’s performance. His eyes were mesmerizing and his emotions were apparent.

In addition, I enjoyed the use of shadows in Robinson’s piece and loved the way the wooden shrub was creatively integrated into the performance. Used in multiple ways, there was a moment where Caldwell first placed the shrub on his head and following that, Dallas placed it on her chest. Combined with the eerie music in the background, that part of the performance gave me goose bumps and it felt like I was being transported into a different world.

While Dallas’s choreography was unique, intricate and somewhat complicated, Robinson’s choreography was raw, edgy and intimate. Each performance was different but ultimately, both choreographies displayed interesting moments that dance lovers would appreciate. Dallas injected bits of humour in her choreographic work and Robinson added a little suspense and mystery.

There really is something for everyone in Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects production, Stages.

Details

  • Stages is playing at the Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester St.)
  • Performances run from September 18th-21st beginning at 8pm
  • Tickets are $15/$20.
  • For more information, visit the Kemi Contemporary Dance Projects website at www.kemiprojects.ca

Photo of Michael Caldwell and Jennifer Dallas by Ömer Yukseker